The Divorce Process

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Grounds for Divorce in Colorado?

Colorado has adopted the concept of “no fault” divorce, making it unnecessary to prove cruelty, adultery, etc. in order to obtain a divorce.  The only ground for a divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  If one spouse believes the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court usually determines that the marriage is broken despite what the other spouse believes.  Marital misconduct (such as infidelity) is not to be considered in deciding how property is divided or in determining support.  However, a parent’s behavior may be relevant in determining parenting arrangements.

What is Legal Separation?

Colorado also provides for a “no fault” legal separation.  A legal separation allows the parties to live separately, possess property separately and in other respects live as if they were divorced.  Neither party may marry, but either party may request that the decree of legal separation be changed into a decree of dissolution six months after the hearing.

How do You File for Divorce?

A “petition” is filed with the court by one spouse or his or her attorney, or both spouses can file jointly.  The Petition states the names and ages of the husband, wife and all children born or adopted during the marriage; when and where you were married; when you separated; that your marriage should be dissolved and various other required information.  The petition typically asks the Court to divide marital property, allocate parenting time (visitation) and decision-making and determine payment of child support, maintenance, attorney’s fees and court costs.

How is my Spouse Served with Divorce Papers?

After the Petition is filed, the other spouse must receive proper notification.  One way to do this is to ask the sheriff or private process server to hand deliver a copy of the Petition to that spouse.  This is called “service of process.”  Sometimes this brings on embarrassment and angry feelings.  An alternative is to have that spouse sign a document called a Waiver and Acceptance of Service.  A Waiver simply acknowledges receipt of the Petition.

What is the Automatic Temporary Injunction?

As soon as the Petition is filed and served, certain court orders automatically go into effect for the protection of the parties.  The automatic orders apply to both spouses and state that: (a) neither party may remove the parties’ minor children from Colorado without the consent of the other party or court order; (b) neither party may molest or disturb the peace of the other party; (c) neither party may transfer, encumber, conceal or dispose of any marital property, except in the usual course of business, or for the necessities of life or if the other party consents; (d) both parties must notify the other party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures; (e) both parties must account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made; (e) neither party may, without at least 14 days notification and written consent of the other party, cancel, modify, terminate or allow to lapse for nonpayment of premium, any policy of health, homeowners, renters, or automobile insurance covering the parties or minor children or any life insurance policy naming either party or the minor children as beneficiaries.

Do I have to take a Parenting Class?

The court typically requires that both parents attend a parenting class, which provides you with information about what behavior to expect from and how best to handle your children during the divorce process.  You need to attend this approximately four hour class as soon as possible, obtain a certificate that you have completed the class, and file it with the Court.

What Information Must be Disclosed during the Divorce?

Colorado law requires both parties in a divorce to fully and honestly disclose all facts that materially affect the parties’ and children’s rights.  This includes disclosure of financial information.  The Court requires both parties to disclose copies of certain financial documents and complete a “Sworn Financial Statement.”

What Happens at the Initial Status Conference?

Typically, an “initial status conference” is set where both parties and their attorneys meet with the judge, a magistrate or a family court facilitator.  During the initial conference, the court and the parties discuss what issues need to be resolved, issues that need immediate attention, and usually schedule the next court hearing or status conference.

What is the 90 Day Waiting Period?

No divorce can be granted until at least ninety days have passed following the date of filing the Petition and service of the Petition on your spouse.  This is a minimum interval.  During the waiting period, the parties usually try to reach an agreement on the issues, such as parental decision-making, a parenting time schedule, support and property division.